Not many people realize this, but the San Diego Chargers have become the consummate road warriors. They have won six in a row in other team’s stadiums while compiling a 7-1 visiting record with the only loss being to the LA team, the Rams. It matters because this game is being played in Foxboro. The offense ranks 11th in the league (386.8 YPG) behind another fine season from veteran QB Philip Rivers, who passed for 4,308 yards and 32 TDs with only 12 INTs. He had plenty of help from RB Melvin Gordon III (1,375 all-purpose yards and 14 TDs) and WR Keenan Allen, who caught 97 passes for 1.196 yards. The defense was solid, holding teams to under 21 PPG while only giving up 333 YPG of total offense.
It wouldn’t be the playoffs without the New England Patriots and QB Tom Brady involved. However, this is not the strongest edition of a Patriots team we have seen when compared to what we have seen over the past 10 years. The fact the team seemed a bit out of sync towards the end of the season is cause for concern. Brady led the league’s 6th ranked offense (402.6 YPG) with 4,355 yards and 29 TDs throwing the ball. The problem was consistency due in large part to injuries and a team that is aging. Credit must be given to a defense that gave up almost 360 YPG yet managed to hold teams to just under 21 PPG scoring.
Prediction: It’s hard to imagine, but the Chargers may well be the better football. Normally, having to play in New England would be a problem. However, the Chargers travel well enough to offset New England’s homefield advantage. Two good defenses in an evenly-matched game makes 4 points look mighty attractive. Play Los Angeles +4 (score – Los Angeles 24-20)